Tackling everyday sexism in the workforce

Tackling everyday sexism in the workforce


With employers stepping up to combat sexism in the workplace, from everyday behaviours to the gender pay gap, new research has revealed that for women working in technology, there is a long way to go to achieve equality.

Statistics released by tech recruiter CWJobs reveal the staggering levels of everyday sexism women are faced within the tech industry. From seemingly innocuous comments, backhanded compliments and uncomfortable encounters to being overlooked for promotion in favour of male colleagues, a worrying number of women face daily challenges in proving their worth.

Over half (51%) of women in tech say that someone has implied that being a woman may prohibit their career, whilst 15% have received such comments directly and nearly one in four (23%) say they have experienced promotion discrimination based on their gender.

Whilst the tech industry is disproportionately male, it shouldn’t mean women are faced with discrimination and made to feel like they don’t belong. Women have experienced comments suggesting they can’t hold a senior role with 63% having overheard or been on the receiving end of ‘can I speak with your boss’ (and over half (51%) have heard the backhanded ‘you are too pretty to work in [this industry]’ regarding their role. Shockingly, (58%) have overheard or been asked if their mood was related to their ‘time of the month’.

Frustratingly over half, (53%) of women in tech surveyed have heard the misguided stereotype that girls can’t do more technical subjects such as science, maths, technology or engineering. Over a third (36%) have been on the receiving end of a man asking ‘Sorry, am I being too technical for you?’

According to the CWJobs research, the most infuriating sexist phrases overheard or received by women in tech in the workplace include:

  • Sweetheart/love/darling etc. – 93%
  • Cheer up / Smile more – 83%
  • Can you make us all tea/coffee? – 69%
  • Not bad for a girl – 66%
  • Oh well done! (sarcastic) – 65%
  • Can I speak with your boss? – 63%
  • Sorry, am I being too technical for you? - 61%
  • You are such a bitch – 60%
  • Don’t get emotional / cry like a girl – 59%
  • You need to be more outgoing / bubbly – 58%
  • Why are you so moody, are you on the blob? – 58%
  • Dumb blonde – 57%
  • Female brains just aren't as logical/technical – 54%
  • Girls can’t do science/maths/technology, engineering etc – 53%
  • You don’t look like you work in tech / You are too pretty to be doing that - 51%
  • You’ll just go off and have babies – 47%
  • You probably got the job because you’re female – 46%
  • Shouldn’t you be getting your nails/hair done instead? – 45%
  • This is a tech event, are you sure you should be here? – 39%

In the era of #MeToo, women are looking for the equality they deserve more than ever and whilst this needs to be driven by example within businesses, CWJobs are passionate about empowering women in tech to speak out and stand up for themselves to drive change.

Christine Forder, Head of CWJobs’ Women in Tech group says, “We have seen changes across the tech sector over the last decade with the typically male-orientated sector seeing an increase of women in key and more senior roles. Whilst it is really promising, in order to attract and retain more women, the issue of blatant and low-level sexism must be addresses.

This notoriously male-led culture needs to change to accommodate a more diverse workforce. Companies and their employees have a responsibility to make women feel welcome, equal and importantly, respected therefore any form of sexism needs to be addressed. 

Whether it’s the casual use as a term of endearment, or something as immoral as being overlooked for a promotion they deserve, at CWJobs we think it is paramount businesses tackle the culture of sexism right now and lead by example”.

CWJobs have created a dedicated landing page to offer advice and guidance: https://www.cwjobs.co.uk/blog/everyday-sexism/

Research was undertaken by:

  • Censuswide - 2001 respondents in full time employment (in STEM subjects) aged 18+ between 12th April and 17th April 2019
  • Opinium - 506 women working in tech aged 18+ between 10th and 12th July 2019

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

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